The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that mosquitoes trapped recently in Bryan Park in North Richmond tested positive for West Nile Virus — fairly early in the season. Mosquitoes being trapped on the city’s North Side are testing positive for West Nile virus at a higher than expected rate, prompting city health officials to remind residents to […]
Mosquitoes being trapped on the city’s North Side are testing positive for West Nile virus at a higher than expected rate, prompting city health officials to remind residents to take precautions to reduce mosquitoes and protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Higher rates of West Nile-positive mosquitoes have been detected in the city in previous years, but not as early in the West Nile season, a city official said.
“We think the weather is a contributing factor,” Richmond Health Department spokesman George Jones said. “Both the hot weather and the dry weather. With the high temperature, the infection rate amplifies quicker.”
The dry weather means water is stagnating in storm drains, providing mosquitoes places to breed. More frequent rain would wash the mosquito pools and larvae away.
There has not been a human case of West Nile infection in the city, Jones said. Statewide, the only human West Nile case reported so far this season is in Fairfax County.
Jones said the mosquito testing is being done by the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology. Testing is being done all over the city, but the higher rate of positive mosquitoes has shown up only on the North Side. Traps have been set in Ginter Park, Battery Park and other North Side communities.
Jones said testing showed an infection rate of 24.5 per 1,000 mosquitoes. That is higher than the expected rate of 11 to 20 per 1,000 mosquitoes.
City health officials said the public works department has responded to citizen reports of standing water by cleaning debris clogging rainwater basins and has installed mosquito abatement pellets in some locations. Also, public works has stepped up the frequency of catch-basin inspections and maintenance. In addition, ongoing efforts will include treating stormwater systems with larvicides.
Residents who want to report standing water should call the city Department of Public Utilities at 644-3000.